So you decided to start your online boutique store. Well, no doubt, the industry is the most popular and profit earning niche in e-commerce. There is lots of potential in the future; also, the sales are expected to touch $ 713 billion in 2022.
For running a successful business, especially in e-commerce, where the competition is always high, it’s crucial to follow all necessary steps and understand the different aspects. In the e-commerce world, all clothing businesses are unique. And that’s what makes them successful in the long run. To understand this in detail, let’s break down the essential steps to start a boutique online.
Essential steps for how to start a boutique online
Video Source: Alli Schultz
Starting a boutique has lots of work to do. There are lots to cover from deciding the product to creating the logo and delivering it to the customer. Also, with better planning, you can approach the investors and get the funds for starting the business.
Well to start, here are the steps to follow –
1. Look around, Research more
Before you jump to understand how to start a boutique online, you must get to know the few basics. There are many clothing businesses online who are running for a long time and have their audience. Look around and see what inspires you, what kind of clothing store you want to start.
To ease this process, start with for whom your store is going to be. Find the audience for your online clothing store. Clothing trends are age-specific; there are chances of inclination in choosing a specific age group. Identify the age of your ideal audience. It will help in choosing the niche in clothing.
Invest your time in researching and understanding the fashion trends. Also, ask around for getting better feedback. You can take help from fashion influencers as well. With this, you will start getting the sense of how your business is going to look like. Find similar concept stores online and collect data on how they are operating.
2. Brainstorm the idea and concept
Once you understand what your store is going to be, now focus on the product you are going to sell. Study regarding different aspects of operating clothing business. Also, focus on what brands are offering and how they are selling their products. Fous on trends, clothing fashion, and materials.
Choosing the product you are going to sell is the utmost crucial part of starting a boutique online. Your whole business is going to depend on this one thing. Well, understand that the market is crowded with lots of ideas and concepts. To stand out, you have to come up with something different. For this, focus on what interests you. You can take inspiration from other influences too. Choose the vision that can define your clothing brand.
Understand what your Boutique is going to sell. Find your niche and be specific. For beginners, it’s tempting to start with everything or something for everyone. But keep it simple and start with something small for early stage
If you are planning to sell clothing for women, then stick with that. Don’t go overboard with casual clothes, which is not suitable for your targeted audience. When you get an overall idea, narrow down the niche little more. Are you going to sell affordable trending clothes? Is it going to be business and professional women?
Determining this also helps in managing the inventory. You get an idea about what to promote and plan the strategy for the brand and decide the website or brand logo.
3. Plan the business
Outlining your goals and planning helps in knowing which steps to take to achieve it. To start a boutique online, the first thing you have to do is to register your online business. But before that, you must have your business plan ready. Choose what kind of business structure you are going to use, are you interested in sole proprietorship? Or is it going to be a corporation or LLC? However, with a corporation or LLC, you require to register the business within the state you are going to operate.
Next thing is to decide the budget. Make a rough plan about how much you are planning to invest and what’s your estimated idea about profit-earning over the year. Once your business plan is ready, you can also take out a bank loan or approach the investors.
When you are planning your business, consider sales, market overview, company description, marketing strategies, and a management team like pointers.
4. Source inventory – Wholesaler vs Dropshipping
When you are decided with what to sell and how to operate your business, the next question is inventory. Before you start the business in the ideal way of source inventory, there are two basic options, either choose wholesaler or dropshipping. With Wholesalers, you can buy the items in bulk. Not just you save your money here, but the option gives you more control over shipping as well. You can use this for branding business.
Dropshipping works as third party suppliers for fulfilling the customer’s orders. Here, you are not responsible for shipping the products directly to customers. In dropshipping, customer places their orders and the third party does the packaging as well as shipping. However, if you are planning on personalizing the orders, you won’t be able to do it here.
Before you decide, make sure to vet the suppliers. It means investigating if the suppliers are meeting with the standard of your Boutique. Make sure to ask for the samples. It will help in doing the quality check before you place the big orders. Ensure to have the point of contact with suppliers in case something doesn’t fit. Also, do the investigation on the supplier’s reputation and the overall working history through the feedback or reviews.
5. Choose your platform
You can choose to sell the products on organic traffic sites. But you can also build your own website and have the control. With both options, you get pros and cons. Options like Etsy or Amazon, they have already established names. Starting with your own brand and website, attracting the traffic turns quite challenging, especially for the early stage.
You can also use the e-commerce website builder. It’s an online tool that helps in designing the store without any particular tech skills. Using such options can help when you don’t know to do code or prefer a comfortable budget. Also, such tools can help in building the store faster. However, such options have limitations when you want to customize the store.
If not then you can also try WordPress. Here you get eCommerce plugins and unlimited options to customize your store the way you want. Find the hosting services for your website before you start. With this, you get overall control over customizing the site and doing the complex changes independently. However, you might spend lots of hours on designing your website. In case of a problem, you have to rely on forums or hire someone.
6. Design the brand
Creating an online brand requires developing the brand. It’s not just about name and logo. Your brand also shares the values, purpose, mission, and vision. In the competition of so many online clothing stores, your brand must have something different and unique to offer. Colors also play a crucial part. The color selection decides the mood, choose the one primary color and the secondary complementary color. Deciding the color, logo, and design helps in branding your Boutique. Also, it becomes easy to recognize even if there are tons of other clothing brands in the market.
7. Design your online store
Now you are required to set up your store online. Regardless of what you choose as a platform, there are some steps you need to follow. It includes: –
- Pick a name – Choosing the name for your online Boutique might take some time. And it’s important to focus before you fix it. Are you feeling comfortable in repeating your store name? Isn’t too cringy or you feel embarrassed? Remember, your store name will be the brand and it should be easy to say for others as well.
- Choose your style – Well it’s an interesting and fun part. Creating the cohesive aesthetic of your brand is crucial to attracting more attention toward what you are selling. The site should be welcoming and warm for the customers who are going to visit. It should tell the story about the products so the customer can understand if the product is suitable for them or not.
- Add the products – Either you can do it yourself or hire the professional. The products should be pleasing for the customers when they are browsing. The visuals, background, and overall look should be appealing. To cut down the cost, you can do it on your own and ask friends for help. But if you are not into photography, you must leave it to the professionals.
- Add descriptions – Studies show that almost 50% of customers drop the products because it doesn’t match the description. Writing a good description with all needed points that a customer should know help in boosting the trust. A good product description appeals to targeted customers. It should not be about features or benefits but it should be honest as well.
- Category distribution– To improve the experience of shoppers, category distribution is essential. The store should be accessible and easy to navigate for the customers. No matter what you are selling, it should be easy to get and find. It helps the customers to come back again and again for shopping.
- Payment options – Another vital point for easy shopping is a safe and secure payment option. Not just for the buyers, but for the sellers, the payment option is crucial. Your website should be connected to the checkout system. There are popular options like Paypal, stripe, etc; not just these are safe, but people around the globe can access as well.
- Shipping – If you are not using the dropshipping, you will need to organize shipping independently. Also, decide if you want to offer free shipping or charge for the services. It includes cheating a return policy as well.
8. Do the Marketing
Well, now you almost completed all the steps related to opening a boutique online. The last step is to do marketing and creating a loyal audience. You can use different platforms, social media, and other marketing methods. Social media is a reliable option to use it for marketing and attracting the audience. It’s much more comfortable, budget-friendly, and easy to access.
Also, brand ambassadors are one of the advantages you can try. You can contact the blogger or vloggers. Do the research on who is suitable for your online Boutique or fit according to your products. Send the samples to them and ask them to share it with their audience. It’s one of the fastest advertising in today’s world.
Benefits of Boutique
For lots of people, Boutique is a small clothing store where they can get exclusive items. Well, it’s not just that. The Boutique is a business which is specialized in the sophisticated niche and serves the limited clients. Such agencies operated within a small group, focusing on dedicating the work to their valued customers. Even though boutiques are not well known but the quality they serve is far better than the so-called brands.
Why work with a boutique branding agency?
People tend to invest in big brands as they are ‘safe’ and more visible. Whereas Boutique has the same skills, you get a much more close relationship in achieving the goals at a better price. If that’s not enough, then here are some best benefits of a boutique that you can get
Hiring any creative firm, the budget plays an important role. When hiring large agencies, you are going to need a big budget to pay the fees. To control it, the boutique agency comes with budget-friendly and vast networks. Also with them, you only pay for what you are going to use. Here you also get control over the services. With large companies, you can choose the service packages that are not cheap and consist of services that you don’t even need. The services in a boutique branding agency are much more flexible and affordable.
Fast and Less hassle
Imagine how fast things will be done when the team consists of only 4 people instead of 20 or 25. The issue with large companies that they have more authority and people to get approval; this can cause delays in works. Working with a boutique gives you speed and faster work results. When you look for potential agencies, you already have a whole plan ready. At this time, you require a company that can respond faster, stays flexible and maintains creativity. Also, due to fewer people involved, the Boutique agency knows whom to contact or to question.
The larger agencies lack the specialization the most. A boutique agency, whereas having much more focus and set of particular skills that are needed. Choosing a boutique agency is useful when you are going for a specialized approach. Boutique agencies work closer to the market, focusing on the main elements. If you already have in mind what you are looking for, the Boutique agency can help.
Creative and flexible
Larger firms have rigid internal procedures. With that, they either follow the same or identical methods. Also, they refuse to try new approaches or tactics. Not this limits their problem-solving options, but creativity also gets affected as well. Small firms like boutiques are more daring to try new things. They don’t focus on one size fit all approach as well. They are free to explore new and best methods to solve the problems of their customers. Here you get a fresh perspective, new tactics, and flexible procedures which change according to your requirements.
The boutique agency works on personalized relationships. You are offering the services that suit you and only you. Also, you get access to everyone, including the CEO or the owner of the Boutique. Not you had the opportunity to build a healthy working relationship, but it boosts trust and understanding.